The gourmet salt collected with the Moon
There are all kinds of legends about salt. Some say that where there is salt there is no shortage of money; others that sometimes it can scare the devil himself, and; there are even those who say it is a powerful amulet that once was used to protect livestock. Even today it is used to purify houses. No doubt it has a magical component, but if there is a sodium chloride has no need for the esoteric to be special it is the one with sea salt or ice salt, a rarity of very high quality that you can only collect when the sun goes down and the crystals form that make it so unique.
The bays of Cádiz and Huelva are two of those special places where the salt seems to have been petrified with moonrise, although the more prosaic prefer to explain it by the contrast in temperature between the day and the night that makes the different chloride crystals of a few millimetres, which are so appreciated by haute cuisine.
Salt flower has to be collected by hand, it is impossible to invent an industrial collection process as the crystal wedges break easily. Once collected, they are stored in bags where they spend a whole year in the sun and wind of the Andalusian coast, full of salt and very humid, so the white dressing reaches the point it needs to be suitable for the dishes it will accompany.
This procedure is well known in the salt marshes of San Vicente Cadiz and Esperanza Grande, and also in Mana de Mar, in Huelva. The three are the Spanish salt plants of which there are the oldest historical documents and from these we also know that they were salt fields to kings and nobles from all parts of Spain back in the nineteenth century.
Like any extraordinary product, it is easily identified: it is pure white, sometimes with a grey or pink tone, and its flavour is less intense than that of common salt, though more delicate. Put in the pot, it dissolves quickly and serves to flavour any food, even raw. And to feel the crunch when it breaks between the tongue and the palate is another experience that borders on the magical.
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